Travel advice & practical information for travelogue:
'Tour Dominican Republic'
Consulado General de la Republica Dominicana
1501 Broadway suite 410
New York, NY 10036
Tel.: (212) 7682480
Consular Section of the Embassy of the Dominican Republic
139 Inverness Terrace
London, W2 6JF
Tel.: 09065 508 945
Fax.: 020 7727 3693
Find tourism information on Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism
You need a tourist visa to enter the Dominican Republic. It can be obtained upon arrival for $10. Payment only in cash and in dollars. Your passport needs to be valid for six months after leaving the Dominican Republic again.
The Dominican Republic has nine million inhabitants and covers the eastern part of the Caribbean island. The western part is neighboring Haiti.
In main tourist centers people speak English, but everywhere else it's just Spanish. Some basic grasp of Spanish is necessary.
The Dominican Republic has much more to offer than a beach vacation in one of the many luxury resorts on the coast. It's totally possible to explore the country by yourself.
There are things that one should take into account if you are touring by yourself in a rental car. The roads are in general very bad, so keep in mind that on average you won't go faster than 40-50 k/p/h. There a many large potholes in the roads and high, badly indicated speed ramps in towns and villages. Sometimes these are deep trenches.
All of this means you'll have to plan ahead where to go. There are two highways in good condition, where you can drive faster, which is convenient for long distances.
There aren't many road signs. Along the main roads are little poles with the road number on them. A detailed road map is indispensable. Large gas stations sell them, they are called "mapas turisticus". On the backside are detailed maps of the bigger cities.
Dominicans drive - to put it mildly - chaotic, so one needs to be alert at all times. Despite this, we didn't see a lot of accidents. But most cars are dented, so make sure you have all-in insurance for your rental car. Trucks will pass you by honking, regardless of oncoming traffic. Might is right here. Oncoming cars are expected to swerve into the roadside. Nobody seems to mind. We took care to arrive at our destinations before dark (6:30 PM).
The Dominican Republic has a tropical climate with a constant temperature between 25 and 35 degrees centigrade. Most rain falls in the east and center of the country. Usually these are short, heavy showers at the end of the afternoon. The rainy season is from June to November, but this varies in different places. Hurricane season is from August to November.
From the end of December to mid-March the bay between Samana and the mainland is populated by whales who mate and have their young here.
We consciously chose to take a tour to the humpback whales with marine biologist Kim Beddall. She sticks to the rules, like the one that says that there cannot be more than three boats near a group of whales and that they can't get too close either. Also they move slowly, unlike some other boats one sees here. Moreover, she provides much information about the whales. The boat she uses, switches on its sonar, so you don't just see the whales, you also hear them. The boat is bigger than most, which means you can walk on deck. In the small boats isn't much room and it's virtually impossible to walk around. Also her boat is covered and provides shade.
Local currency is the Dominican peso. In places with many tourists credit cards are accepted. Larger towns have ATMs.
For current information about health risks, look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site.
Security and safety
Traveling in some countries brings a certain amount of risk with it. That doesn't always need to keep you from going there, but part of a good preparation is finding out about possible risks.
Plan your trip to Dominican Republic online
Through online reservation systems like À la Carte Vacations you can book airline tickets, hotels, rental cars and holiday houses. You can build a fly-drive itinerary with maximum flexibility, book a flight plus a hotel hotel for a night or weekend. Without the limitations of package deals from travel organisations and most times for a much better price.
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